16 Jul Special of the Day: A Make-ahead Menu for a Laid Back Weekend Away
It’s hard to beat summer in Montana with so many gorgeous lakes and majestic mountains to explore, not to mention two national parks within our state’s borders. Summer is the perfect time for wonderful weekend getaways with an abundance of cabins and other enticing vacation rentals within easily drivable distances.
Once you get there, you’ll just want to unpack, kick back, relax and enjoy. It’s always nice to have a make-ahead menu you prep and pack up to effortlessly assemble and savor during your stay.
Pay it forward by preparing a few ingredients before you go, load it all up in a cooler with ice packs and you are all set to pull together with panache: a gourmet phyllo streusel filled with cheesy ham and rosemary red potatoes to be sliced and served for brunch, a tangy BBQ Chicken Pizza with red onion and cilantro for lunch or dinner and a batch of Bittersweet Chocolate-Berry-Toffee Bites for whenever you’re craving a bite of something sweet.
Take full advantage of summer in Montana before it slips away by planning for a weekend getaway somewhere scenic and serene with this week’s Special of the Day: Make Ahead Menu for a Laid Back Weekend Away and recipes for Cheesy Ham and Rosemary Red Potato Streusel, BBQ Chicken Pizza with Smoked Gouda, Red Onion and Cilantro and Bittersweet Chocolate-Berry-Toffee Bites. Enjoy! Recipes and food photography by Sydne George
Cheesy Ham and Rosemary Red Potato Streusel
(makes two streusels, to be sliced and served for 4 to 6 people)
Make ahead tips: Cook the potatoes, grate the cheese and dice the ham before you go. Stir them together with the minced rosemary, transfer to a covered refrigerator container (or large sealable plastic bag) and pop them in your cooler for transport.
Then, as soon as the phyllo is thawed, assembly is as easy as brushing dough with melted butter, adding the already-made filling, rolling and baking.
2 cups baby red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup smoked Gouda cheese, grated
½ tsp. salt
1 cup honey ham, diced
½ tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 8-ounce roll frozen phyllo dough
¼ cup melted butter
Bring salted water to a summer in a medium pot over medium high heat.
Add potatoes and cook just until tender, about 6 minutes.
Drain in colander and let cool slightly.
Toss cooked potatoes, cheese, salt, ham and rosemary together in medium bowl until well mixed.
Transfer to a covered refrigerator dish and chill until ready to assemble.
When ready to assemble:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Unroll 4 sheets of thawed phyllo.
Brush with butter.
Top with half of the cheesy ham and potato filling.
Carefully tuck opposite ends of phyllo in toward the center and roll into a long thin streusel roll, brushing with additional melted butter to seal.
Repeat filling and rolling to make a second streusel.
Place assembled streusel rolls on buttered baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown and flaky.
Remove from oven and let rest briefly.
Use a sharp serrated bread knife to slice into slices. Serve warm with fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish.
BBQ Chicken Pizza with Smoked Gouda, Red Onion and Cilantro
(serves 4 to 6 people)
Make ahead tips:
Make the pizza dough ahead, grill the chicken, grate the cheese and stir together the BBQ sauce.
Then everything is prepped for pizza assembly at the last minute.
Roll dough out thinly on a cornmeal dusted surface, transfer to baking sheet, brush with sauce, layer grilled chicken atop, sprinkle with cheese, drizzle with a bit more sauce, top with red onion and pop in the oven.
Make the pizza dough:
1 to 1 ½ cup warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
3 cups flour
½ cup olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
Dissolve sugar in 1 cup warm water.
Sprinkle yeast over the warm water and let bloom until foamy.
Add yeast mixture to flour, olive oil and salt in mixing bowl fitted with dough hook.
Mix until dough comes together in a ball.
Add additional warm water if necessary.
Transfer to medium bowl coated with olive oil.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place while you make the sauce and grill the chicken.
Transfer to refrigerator (or cooler) and keep cold until ready to assemble pizza.
Grill the chicken:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Preheat barbecue grill to 300 degrees.
Combine salt, garlic powder and pepper and season both sides of both chicken breasts.
Cook seasoned chicken on preheated grill about 5 minutes, or until it releases easily.
Then grill other side until chicken is cooked through, about 5-8 minutes.
Remove from grill and let rest.
Make the BBQ sauce:
2 cups ketchup
¼ cup orange juice
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup honey
1 clove garlic, minced
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine ketchup, orange juice, salt, honey and garlic.
Whisk until completely combined.
Remove from heat.
To assemble BBQ Chicken Pizza:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice grilled chicken into thin slices.
On cornmeal-dusted surface, roll pizza dough out into large thin rectangle, just smaller than your baking sheet.
Transfer crust to baking sheet.
Brush crust with olive oil and bake in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, or until set.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Brush prebaked crust with BBQ sauce to cover.
Top with thinly sliced grilled chicken.
Sprinkle with 6 ounces grated smoked gouda cheese.
Drizzle additional BBQ sauce over the top.
Arrange thinly sliced red onion rings on top.
Return to oven and bake until crust is golden and cheese is melted.
Slice into squares and serve hot.
Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs. Enjoy!
Bittersweet Chocolate-Berry-Toffee Bites
(*Inspired by the decadent fruit and chocolate clusters my mom makes in the summer.)
Makes 20-24 treats ½ cup whole almonds 10-ounce bag bittersweet chocolate chips
3 Heath candy bars, cut in small chunks
1 pint fresh raspberries, washed and dried
Fleur de sel or other fine salt, to sprinkle atop clusters
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds out on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes, until lightly toasted.
Melt chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or in a medium metal bowl fit on top of a pan of simmering water, not touching bowl bottom.
Stir until smooth.
Remove from heat.
Lay out large sheet of parchment over cutting board.
Spoon melted chocolate onto parchment into 2 tablespoon pools, mounding chocolate up in middle a bit.
Arrange a Heath chuck, a toasted almond and a fresh raspberry on each cluster.
Sprinkle with Fleur de sel.
Let cool completely.
Peel parchment off clusters.
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/.